DPMS Panther's new Mini SASS rifle benefits from an almost-military pedigree. Several years ago the Army put out a solicitation for a new semi-automatic sniper system (SASS) to replace its aging M21 and M24 sniper rifles. The new rifle had to be chambered for the 7.62 NATO cartridge, be man-portable, and possess sub minute-of-angle accuracy. After much testing and evaluation, the field was narrowed to Knight's Armament Company's entry and a rifle submitted jointly by DPMS Panther and Remington's Military Products Division.
In the end, the Knight's Armament rifle won the contract. But the lessons learned during this exercise were not lost on DPMS. The company eventually offered a version of the gun designed to meet the military specifications but meant for civilian consumption.
The original DPMS SASS rifle featured a full-length rail system, match-grade trigger, and adjustable stock, and possessed accuracy that far surpassed the military's requirement. It continues to be one of the most popular rifles in the DPMS lineup.
So successful was the 7.62 x 51mm rifle that DPMS officials decided to build a 5.56 x 45mm version of the gun. Called, appropriately enough, the Mini SASS, this new rifle has many of the same features that made its big brother so popular.
With a weight of 9.45 pounds without optics or magazine, the Mini SASS is not overly heavy for a sniping system. And its 18-inch barrel is a perfect compromise length, balancing the benefits of a short barrel for portability but with enough length for effective velocity and accuracy. To stabilize the heavier bullets, the barrel is button rifled with a 1:8 inch twist. It has a medium weight contour with its profile reduced at the muzzle to accept a Panther Flash hider, designed for use on any standard AR-15 flash hider threads.
As for the firearm's looks, I thought the barrel was made of carbon steel at first glance, but found out it is actually made from 416 stainless steel and then Teflon coated a non-reflective black. DPMS flutes the barrel and, while it is my opinion that this is a mostly cosmetic function, there are others that make the argument that the increased surface area helps keep the barrel cooler longer and makes it more rigid. DPMS uses a 5.56 x 45mm chamber on the Mini SASS and it will chamber and function fine with all 5.56 x 45mm and .223 Remington ammunition.
About two inches longer than a carbine gas tube, the mid-length gas system used on the Mini SASS lowers the port pressure. This, claims its advocates, extends the service life of the weapon.
DPMS uses a free-floating four-rail handguard on the Mini SASS that extends past the low-profile gas block. Because of this, the front sight is actually mounted on the rail system. Flip Mangonel front and rear sights are included in the DPMS Mini SASS package.
You'll note that there are two notches on the front sight. One is for mounting the front sight on a railed gas block and the other position is for rail mounting. which is the one you'll use for the Mini SASS. Both front and rear sights only require the user to lift it, giving the spring-loaded support a chance to deploy.
Of Good Stock
DPMS outfits the Mini SASS with the Magpul PRS (Precision Rifle Stock), which is high quality and highly adjustable.
The PRS features a whopping 3.25 inches of adjustable pull length. Important if the rifle will be used with multiple shooters or even just one shooter. Whether you're wearing a vest, heavy winter jacket, or in shirtsleeves you'll have the ability to customize your length of pull. Additionally, the cheek piece is adjustable for height.
Decide to change the optics on your rifle? Depending on the mount you use, you may need to change the height of the comb. MagPul's PRS gives you the ability to instantly modify your stock to fit your needs.
Like all of MagPul's products the PRS stock is built to withstand the rigors of use in a hostile environment. Its buttplate is machined from billet and has a rubber buttpad; its extension shafts are constructed from steel and phosphated black; and aluminum ball detent knobs are used for adjusting the stock. On the rear of the buttstock is a place where you can pull the stock tightly against your shoulder with your offhand when shooting from a supported position.